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8.15.2009

'Cause It's Root, Root, Root For the Cubbies...

It seems like my life has been unfolding in unpredictable ways this week. First there was my last minute remix of my plans for Spring Awakening. Then, yesterday, Dad let me know that we had Cubs tickets for today that were not yet spoken for. I had asked him about the remaining tickets in our season package, as Lauren had previously mentioned to me that she and Clarence had never been to a baseball game since they moved to Chicago last year, and I thought it would be nice to invite them. Apparently I was not persistent enough in my queries, because he didn't get back to me until the last minute, but thankfully I was able to get a hold of Lauren and they were both free to come to the game. Compared to yesterday, it was relatively drama-free.

Our tickets come with a parking pass, but with no cars, we were relegated to the monstrously packed Red Line to trek north to Wrigley Field. Today's game coincided with the annual Chicago Air and Water Show, which only added to the hordes of people, but if we had to be stuck in a crowded train, it was at least before the game, so the passengers were not yet drunken and rowdy. We timed it perfectly, and arrived at the ballpark just in time for the game to start.

Wrigley Field, and my quasi-successful first attempt at taking a panoramic photo.

The Cubs faced the Pittsburgh Pirates today, after slaughtering them yesterday, 17-2. Personally, I think some of the Cubs' good fortune can be attributed to the distraction provided by the planes soaring overhead. At several points throughout the game it was easy to tell that the crowd was paying more attention to the flips and spirals of the planes than the game, as their cheers were unrelated to the action on the field. I even caught some of the outfielders craning their necks to check out the action to the east, instead of keeping their eyes on the ball. After the slump the Cubs have been in lately, anything that will turn the tide is welcome.

Check out that neon-green relish! Now those are some proper Chicago-style hot dogs!

Since I'm not much of a baseball fan, the unique Chicagocana of the Wrigley Field experience is the highlight of any afternoon spent at the "friendly confines" for me. There's the rooftop seats on the neighboring buildings, the Chicago-style hot dogs with the neon-green relish (although, I confess, in this regard I'm not a real Chicagoan -- I much prefer some sauteed onions and ketchup, sacrilegious, I know), the ridiculous animated squeegee race on the Jumbotron below the scoreboard, the fact that there's still a manual scoreboard at all, and 41,000 fans standing up to sing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" led by a local celebrity during the seventh inning stretch. We lucked out today by having John Cusack in town to perform the honor.

Alfonso Soriano, my favorite Cubs player, at bat.

Just to show how little I know about baseball, there are only three Cubs players whose names I can recite from memory -- Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano, and Milton Bradley, whose name I can only recall because it is the same as the board game company. Of these players, I know very little. I don't know what positions they play, or whether they're even any good, but I know that Soriano is my favorite. Why, you ask? The answer is simple -- his knee socks. While all the other Cubs players opt for the contemporary full-length pant uniforms, Soriano keeps it old school with breaches and knee socks. I might not know anything else about him, but I certainly appreciate his retro style.

Lauren and I on our way out of the "friendly confines."

Despite the 90 degree temperatures, there was a pleasant breeze blowing, and the overhang provided some shade to keep us out of the direct sunlight after about the second inning. The convivially drunken fans behind us provided some comic relief as they ruminated endlessly on ballpark bathroom survival strategies. All in all, it was a rather pleasant way to spend the afternoon, and I'm glad I was able to invite Lauren and Clarence along for the experience.

Oh, and as for the game, the Cubs won, but we were already long gone. We successfully evaded the crowds on the post-game public transit, and most importantly, I didn't have to listen to the "Go, Cubs, Go" song that is played at the end of every home victory. That song is an earworm of epic proportions. But that's a story for another day...

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